Moroccan lamb backstrap (2023)

Lamb backstrap is a cut that’s prized for its tenderness and delicate lamb flavour. You’ll fall in love with the flavourful Moroccan spice rub we’re using today. It’s the perfect match with backstrap!

Moroccan lamb backstrap (1)

Moroccan lamb backstrap

This platter of food you see in this post is my idea of a perfect meal for sharing with family and friends for special occasions.

It’s a bit special, being that lamb backstrap is a tender, lean cut with delicate lamb flavour.

It tastes exotic and sounds exotic (“it’s a ras el hanout spice mix, darling!”). But it’s made with spices I always have.

It’s quick to cook. 4 minutes on each side.

And it looks so inviting when you slice it up then pile it all on a platter on a colourful bed of pearl couscous or traditional couscous!

Moroccan lamb backstrap (2)

So if all of this – or some of this – sounds great to you too, I think I’ve got something pretty special for you today. I could eat this all summer long. That Moroccan spice rub with the lamb is just out of this world!!!

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Moroccan lamb backstrap (4)

You’ll see me cook this on the stove in the recipe video below. I would’ve preferred to BBQ it. But it was raining on video day. So stove it was.

I know, I know, your heart is bleeding for me, having to settle for stove-cooked Moroccan lamb backstrap for lunch! 😂

Moroccan lamb backstrap (5)

Ingredients for Moroccan lamb backstrap

You need….drumroll please… lamb backstrap to make this dish!! Ha ha, sorry, couldn’t resist. 😂

Moroccan lamb backstrap (6)

Lamb backstrap is also known as eye of loin. It’s a lean cut of meat that is very tender with a delicate lamb flavour.

Along with lamb cutlets and lamb rack, it’s one of the premium cuts of lamb though of these three, lamb backstrap is usually the best value. Also, at times you will find it at discounted prices here in Sydney. For example, at the time of writing it is on special for A$30/kg at Harris Farms (US$10/lb / £17/kg).

Moroccan spice mix – Ras el hanout

The spice mix used in this Morrocan lamb backstrap is ras el hanout, a spice blend common in North Africa used in many dishes such as chicken tagine and vegetable tagine. And it’s exceptionally great with lamb!

You can buy pre-made blends but homemade is so much better because the balance of flavours can be unpredictable from brand to brand with cheaper ones just downright wrong!

Here’s what you need – pantry staples!

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You won’t be left lacking if you are missing a spice (maybe even two). Make up for it by dialling up the ones you have!

How to cook lamb backstrap

Take care to cook gently to ensure you don’t take the lamb past medium rare. It’s a lean cut of meat, so if you do overcook it, it will be dry and tough. Blushing pink is what you want for juicy and tender!

(Video) Moroccan Lamb Backstrap

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  1. Mix the Moroccan spice mix ingredients together.

  2. Coat backstrap – Rub the backstrap with olive oil then sprinkle with the spice mix. If time permits, marinate for 1 hour to allow the spice flavours to penetrate the meat slightly. If you don’t have time, that’s fine, just cook straight away. The spice mix has so much flavour in it, you’ll still get a good hit with each mouthful!

  3. Cook the lamb for 4 minutes on each side over medium high on the stove or BBQ, or until the core temperature is 59°C/138°F for perfect blushing pink medium rare. This is the internal temperature at which the lamb will be at its juiciest. Because it’s a lean cut, the more you cook it beyond this temperature, the less juicy the meat will be.

  4. Rest the lamb for 3 minutes on a rack. This step is important because it allows the juices to redistribute throughout the fibres of the meat so it will stay in the lamb when you cut it, and eventually end up where you want it – in your mouth. If you skip resting, the meat juices just run out onto the plate when you slice the meat, instead of staying in the meat fibres, so the meat is less juicy to eat.

    Rack? You can just plonk the backstrap on a plate, but a rack is better because it prevents the underside sweating and getting wet which means losing some of the spice crust.

    Serving – Once rested, slice the lamb into 0.75 – 1 cm / 1/4 – 1/3″ thick slices. Then serve with the yogurt sauce on the side!

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What to serve with Moroccan lamb backstrap

The lamb is pictured in this post on a pile of pearl couscous salad which I shared on the weekend with the intention of suggesting it for this lamb. It’s filled with bright flavours from a lemon dressing and a handful of coriander/cilantro and dill. I describe it as Mediterranean flavours but it could just as easily be described as a Middle Eastern salad which can have a similar fresh flavour profile.

Here are a few more sides that I think will go especially well with this lamb:

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad
Shredded Red Cabbage, Carrot and Mint Salad
Ottolenghi’s Green Bean Salad
Greek Salad
Middle Eastern Roasted Vegetables with Tahini Drizzle
(Video) How To Make Moroccan Lamb Backstrap
Roasted Broccolini with Tahini Sauce (Ottolenghi recipe)
Sexy Lentil Salad
Side Salads

I’d love to know if you have other ideas for what to serve with this lamb backstrap! I feel like there’s so many possibilities and it would be great to get some inspiration. 🙂 – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Moroccan lamb backstrap (19)

Moroccan lamb backstrap

Author: Nagi

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 10 mins

Marinating & resting time:: 1 hr 3 mins


(Video) Marinated Lamb Backstrap with Fattoush starring Amina Elshafei

Middle Eastern, Moroccan

5 from 1 vote


Tap or hover to scale


Recipe video above. Love lamb backstrap – beautifully tender with a relatively mild lamb flavour. Pairs 100% perfectly with a bold, earthy Moroccan Ras el hanout spice blend. Cook this lean, delicate meat gently – keep it blushing pink for optimum juiciness!

Serve on a bed of Pearl couscous salad or traditional couscous for a fabulous share platter. Cook on the stove or BBQ on warm summer days!


  • 2 x 250g/8oz lamb backstraps (Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (rubbing)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (cooking)

Moroccan spice mix (ras el hanout, Note 2):

  • 1 1/2 tsp cooking/kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder

Yogurt sauce (for serving):

  • 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil , plus extra swish for drizzling
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • Pinch of sumac or paprika , optional garnish

Sides (optional):

  • Pearl couscous salad (pictured in post)
  • Classic couscous
  • More side suggestions in post
(Video) How to Cook Lamb Backstrap and How to Serve it too


  • Yogurt sauce – Mix ingredients. Refrigerate until required.

  • Moroccan spice mix – Mix the spices in a small bowl.

  • Coat backstrap – Pat the backstraps dry with a paper towel then rub all over with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle the spice mix on the lamb backstraps – use it all! Set aside for 1 hour to marinate (if time permits, can skip).

  • Cook – Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the lamb backstops for 4 minutes on each side, or until the core temperature is 59°C/138°F.

  • Rest – Transfer onto a rack set over a tray (or just a plate) to rest for 3 minutes. Cut into 0.75 – 1 cm / 1/4 – 1/3" thick slices. Serve with yogurt sauce!

Recipe Notes:

1. Lamb backstrap – Also known as eye of loin or lamb loin. Lean cut of meat, so need to cook gently and keep the inside pink else it will be dry. Remove silver skin, if it has it, using a small sharp knife. Smaller is more tender (younger lamb) with more delicate flavour. Larger (say 300g/10oz+) is from older lambs (technically mutton), still very tender and excellent, also more economical.

2. Spices – You won’t be left lacking if you are missing a spice (maybe even two). Make up for it by dialling up the ones you have.

3. Leftovers will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

4. Nutrition is for 4 servings and assumes all the yogurt sauce is consumed which it may not be. I just never like to run out of sauce! 🙂

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 325cal (16%)Carbohydrates: 3g (1%)Protein: 31g (62%)Fat: 21g (32%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 85mg (28%)Sodium: 1121mg (49%)Potassium: 369mg (11%)Fiber: 0.3g (1%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 32IU (1%)Vitamin C: 2mg (2%)Calcium: 74mg (7%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Keywords: lamb backstrap, lamb loin

(Video) How To Make Zaatar Crusted Lamb Backstrap

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Is lamb, backstrap a good cut? ›

Lamb backstrap comes from the back loin of the animal along the spine. It is a premium cut of meat that has little to no fat content and a rich flavour. This wonderful, lean cut of meat has a delicious, tender texture.

What else is lamb, backstrap called? ›

Lamb backstrap

This cut of meat is also known as eye of loin.

Is lamb loin the same as lamb, backstrap? ›

The Lamb Backstrap is a lean and extremely tender cut of meat. It is taken from the middle of the lamb's loin and contains the eye muscle running along the spine.

How much is lamb, backstrap? ›

Lamb Backstrap $45.99/KG

They take on the flavour of a marinade well, so they are perfect to cook on the BBQ or to cut into strips to use in salads or when stir frying.

What is the best way to cook backstrap? ›

Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the backstrap to ensure full coverage. The olive oil helps to keep moisture in to prevent the venison from drying out. Grill for 3½ minutes on one side, and then flip for an additional 3 minutes. For maximum flavor and tenderness, cook to medium rare or on the rare side.

What is the tastiest cut of lamb? ›

The loin produces the most flavorful and tender cuts of Lamb in our opinion, due to its generous and tasty fat cap. Lamb Loin is located in between the ribs and sirloin. Lamb Loin Chops look like miniature bone-in T-Bone steaks or Porterhouse, that are straightforward to grill or pan-fry.

What is the cheapest cut of lamb? ›

Scrag and middle neck

Two adjoining cuts taken from the top of the lamb, just below the head, these cuts are cheaper than the best end of neck, which is further towards the middle of the animal.

Can you eat lamb backstrap medium rare? ›

The lamb backstrap is essentially the rack or loin off the bone. It is lean and amazingly tender with a lovely subtle flavour. The backstrap is perfect for a quick cook on the grill to rare or medium-rare and then sliced.

Is the backstrap the same as the tenderloin? ›

Backstraps are the large muscles that run parallel along both sides of a deer's spine and rest on top of the ribcage, whereas the tenderloins are much smaller, and are located inside the abdominal cavity underneath the backstrap and the spine.

What is the healthiest cut of lamb? ›

Lamb may have saturated fat, but choosing a lean cut means you get less of it. Look for tenderloin, loin chops, or legs. The way you prepare the meat can also make it a healthier option. Before cooking, trim off as much fat as possible.

Is lamb healthier than beef? ›

Lamb and beef have similar calories, total fat, protein, vitamin, and mineral content—but lamb (especially grass-fed lamb) is the winner when it comes to omega-3 fat content. Grass-fed lamb also has higher quantities of the healthy fat CLA, which is beneficial for cognitive, cardiovascular, and metabolic health.

Is backstrap good meat? ›

Backstraps from elk, deer, and antelope are some of the most prized wild game cuts . Their tenderness and shape yields excellent steaks, and every hunter should know how to properly handle them.

How long should you cook backstrap? ›

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the backstrap for 6-8 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer reads 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare to medium. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Why is backstrap so tender? ›

When rigor mortis sets in, the animal stiffens. Hanging the animal prevents the muscles along the spine from shortening. This is why backstraps and tenderloin are tender. However, it doesn't prevent other muscles from shortening and becoming tough.

What is backstrap meat called? ›

For the record, backstrap refers to a length of loin on the back of a deer, elk, moose, etc. It's the ribeye in beef and loin in pork. Tenderloins are the two strips of very tender meat under the loin, behind the ribs.

Do you need to soak backstrap before cooking? ›

Soak sliced deer meat in salt water overnight if you're able, or at least an hour. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat to 325 degrees. (My favorite to use is my Lodge Cast Iron Skillet )

Should I soak backstrap in milk? ›

Some say the gamey taste in wild venison results from improper handling in the field or the deer's diet. But no matter the cause, soaking venison in milk or buttermilk reduces the gamey flavor.

Can you cook backstrap in the oven? ›

These prized deer / venison tenderloins cook easily in a skillet on the stovetop and are finished in the oven. Deer tenderloins and / or backstrap are an easy, delicious and tender recipe to make.

What lamb is least gamey? ›

American Lamb:

This breed is the largest in size and many say is the highest in quality and consistency. American lamb has grain in its diet and thus tastes less “gamey” compared to imported lamb which is typically grass fed.

Is lamb meat healthier than chicken? ›

A Look at the Other Nutrients

High intakes of saturated fat may increase blood cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease. But, lamb is a significantly a better source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12 than chicken, meeting 10 percent or more of your daily value.

Which lamb is gamey? ›

Domestic lamb is distinguished by its larger size and milder flavor, while lamb imported from Australia or New Zealand features a gamier taste.

Are Backstraps good? ›

While they aren't the same as a tenderloin, they are considered one of the most tender cuts of meat of a deer. Backstraps would equate to the same cut of meat we commonly call ribeye in beef and loin in pork cuts. These two cuts of meat are some of the most desirable due to their tender nature.

Which is more tender backstrap or tenderloin? ›

Backstrap is a large muscle, but it is not used constantly for weight bearing like the shoulders and hindquarters are. Thus, it is more tender.

Is backstrap the same as tenderloin? ›

Backstrap is the whole tenderloin. It runs the length of the deer along both sides of the backbone and is usually harvested as two long cuts.


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